“[If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” he said in his Feb. 12 State of the Union Address.
“I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
What Obama really means is that the Administration will continue to take unilateral, executive actions via the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies to restrict carbon emissions.
The fact is, the EPA has been a rogue agency since 2009 when it issued its carbon endangerment finding—ruling carbon dioxide, a biological gas necessary for the very existence of life to be a harmful pollutant.
This, despite the fact that the Clean Air Act never identified carbon emissions as such. This was a power conferred upon the agency by a foolish Supreme Court ruling in 2007, Massachusetts v. EPA.
So, it’s not a matter of waiting for Congress to act. The White House acted in its first year of office without congressional consent, despite the fact that Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Even then, Democrats lacked the votes in the Senate to pass cap-and-trade, and so Obama just did what he wanted.
Since then, the carbon endangerment finding has become the basis for regulating how much carbon coal power plants can emit and other restrictions. In addition, the EPA’s mercury emission regulations require power plants to be retrofitted with new technologies — costing billions of dollars to implement — add to the problem.
So, this is really nothing new from Obama. Just more of the same utter disrespect for the separation of powers that has become a staple of his time in office.
As another example, the now the EPA also wants to regulate stormwater as a pollutant under the terms of the Clean Water Act, even though that law never defines water as a pollutant.
Fortunately, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in a Jan. 3 decision, Virginia Department of Transportation vs. the EPA, determined the agency had overstepped its bounds.
But who knows how the Supreme Court might ultimately rule on that matter? Or if Obama will even listen.
After all, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Obama’s recent “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB) were unconstitutional because Congress was not even in recess — and the Administration has ignored the ruling. The members are still meeting and issuing decisions on behalf of the agency.
But the problems do not end there.
Under the Obama Administration, the EPA has taken the habit of entering into “sue-and-settle” arrangements with radical environmentalist groups. This is where an organization sues the EPA demanding that they enforce the law in a new, expanded way.
The EPA then enters into a consent decree with the party, which is signed by a judge without review, since the two disputing parties are in “agreement.” Suddenly, the EPA’s power under the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act has been expanded dramatically — again.
In June, holding a hearing on the matter, Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Technology Rep. James Lankford noted, “In the past 3 years, the Administration has concluded approximately 60 settlements with special interest — 29 of these agreements bound EPA to make major policy changes. The plaintiffs in these cases are often the very same reoccurring players — the Sierra Club, [the Natural Resources Defense Council] NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, Wild Earth Guardians, and Center for Biological Diversity.”
Besides the EPA, radical groups have also used the tactic on the Departments of the Interior, Transportation, Agriculture, and Defense, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Does any of this sound like the normal process for a bill becoming law? Obama and his rogue agencies are completely taking Congress out of the equation.
This is a rogue president who has zero respect for the high office he holds, or the limited powers he has been authorized to wield under the Constitution.
To counter this, for starters, House Republicans might consider using the upcoming continuing resolution debate to defund the EPA unless and until the carbon and water endangerment findings are repealed, these sue-and-settle cases by any agency are ended, and for good measure, legislation is passed requiring that all new regulations by the EPA be subjected to congressional approval.
Obama is not supposed to be able to make law. But he is. The question is what Congress is going to do about it.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.